U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Tuesday, January 26th that drivers of commercial vehicles, essentially large trucks and buses, are now formally banned from texting while driving and that drivers caught ignoring the ban could be fined up to $2,750. The ban is effective immediately.
In a statement announcing the ban, transportation Secretary LaHood was quoted as saying, “We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe. This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”
Because standing rules prohibit drivers from engaging in activities that distract from their focus on the road, the ban did not require the creation of any additional rules. It does, however, require enforcement. Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety told The Washington Post, “The enforcement problem here is enormous. It’s not clear this is going to make any difference on the road in terms of crashes.”
Still, the ban is a step in the right direction. Several recent studies and good common sense indicate that texting or talking on a cell while driving will lead to more truck accidents and their horrible aftermath on our roads. Last year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration compiled data, which indicate that texting drivers take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 out of every 6 seconds. Such a driver, when going 55 mph, travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.
Compliance with the ban and continued improvements in enforcement efforts will mean fewer truck accidents and greater safety for us all.